21 January 2015

First World Problems

In a recent Oxford English Dictiony (OED) update, I see that First World problems has been added.

Originally, First World problems were real problems. The term appeared in 1979 and referred to problems associated with the "First World" - major countries of the developed world.

By the late 1990s, a kind of ironic usage had emerged. The term became more frequently used for a rather minor problem that is more of a frustration that comes from economic and social privilege. In fact, the term deliberately contrasts with the more serious problems faced by people in the developing Third World.

More recently, this usage has become popular in social media posts where the hastag #firstworldproblems might be used to indicate that the poster is quite aware of the triviality of the complaint.

The final citation in the OED’s new entry for First World problem is an example from a Twitter post:
“My ergonomic mouse is too sensitive! #firstworldproblems.”

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